Flaky Vs Tender Crusts
The flakiness of a crust is a result of both the fat that you use and how much you work the fat into the flour before adding the water. Because of their higher melting temperature and unique structure, lard and shortening do make very flaky crusts. But you can make an equally flaky crust using all-butter by not over-incorporating the butter into the flour. In this recipe, that means adding the butter in two additions, and cutting it into the flour just until you see pieces no larger than peas. Conversely, if you like a very tender crust, work the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs.
My Idea Of The Very Best Homemade Pie Crust
Ah the humble pie crust made with the most basic ingredients yet its always something that leaves people smitten.
Ive made countless pie crusts over the years and it wasnt until this past year that I finally felt I could make the best pie crust weve had.
Just how good were they? They tasted incredibly delicious bare without the need of a filling. Many of them we were breaking off generously sized, super flaky pieces before they had a chance to be filled.
My mom finally gave me the this is better than mom and grandma made approval so I knew Id finally gotten in right.
I hope you love it as much as we do in all its glorious, golden brown, tender, buttery deliciousness!
It is one of those things that takes some practice but to get a great head start Ive listed a step-by-step photo guide and have shared many tips for success so you can have a picture perfect pie crust youll be proud of this holiday season!
There are also directions included for making the pie dough in the food processor as well if youre interested .
The Benefits Of The Food Processor Method
So that’s all very interesting, but the real question is: Why should you care? How does this make forming pie dough any easier?
It does so in two ways. First off, this method completely removes the variability of a traditional pie dough recipe. By weighing out a given amount of flour and fat, combining them together until they form a near homogeneous paste, and then adding the remaining dry flour to that paste, you are very strictly defining exactly how much flour is used for gluten formation and how much ends up coated with fat. No more trying to visually judge whether the fat is properly cut into the flour. No more adding ice water a drop at a time until a dough is formed. The dough comes out the same, every single time.
The other key advantage is that your dough becomes much more pliable. The flour-fat paste formed at the beginning is much softer and more malleable than pure butter, which means that your final dough rolls out smoothly and easily with little-to-no risk of cracking like a traditional pie crust, even without the vodka.
Using Sweet Or Tart Cherries
As far as the cherries go, we like to use fresh cherries, but if you need to, use thawed frozen or canned/jarred cherries. . Both sweet and tart cherries will work well in this pie. We usually use sweet because fresh tart cherries are almost impossible to find where we live. No matter which you use, be sure to check for how sweet they are then adjust the sugar accordingly. We love serving each slice with freshly whipped cream, but ice cream would be divine.
What Type Of Flour Should You Use In Pie Crust
I recommend using a high quality all purpose flour. I love Bobs Red Mill Unbleached All Purpose Flour, but honestly, you can use whatever all purpose flour you have on hand and it will work!
You might ask why I dont use pastry flour in my pie dough. I mean, I get the question because essentially a pie crust is a type of pastry. And when I tested pie crust with pastry flour, there is no denying that the crust was delicious and very tender, as pastry four has less protein than all purpose, BUT it didnt hold up as a crust as well as the crust made with all purpose flour. If you are looking for a flaky, yet sturdy crust for your pie, I definitely recommend all purpose flour.
Also Check: Campbells Soup Chicken Pot Pie
The Myths Behind Flaky Pie Crust
On paper, classic pie dough is a mind-bogglingly simple recipe. Combine flour with a bit of salt and sugar, cut in some butter, lard, and/or shortening, then add just enough cold water to get it to come together into a disk. Roll it out and bake. That’s it.
The underlying difficulty in the technique comes during the first stage of cutting the butter into the flour. Unless you make pie dough day in and day out, it’s close to impossible to accurately cut butter into flour to the same degree on a consistent basis. Don’t cut it in quite enough, and you need to add extra water to absorb the excess dry flour, resulting in the over-formation of gluten, and a tough, leathery crust. On the other hand, cut it in just bit too much, and you end up with way too little dry flour. Rather than having well-structured flaky layers, you end up with a crust that crumbles into sandy pieces, like this:
J. Kenji López-Alt
That is the reason why you sometimes need to add a couple tablespoons of water and other times up to twice as much to get the dough to come togetherit’s got nothing to do with the relative humidity of the air, as many books will have you believe. Indeed, in the short time that it takes to make a pie crust, flour will absorb approximately 0.1% of its weight in water, even in the most humid of environments. That’s a small enough amount to effectively be zero.
J. Kenji López-Alt
How To Make Flaky Pie Crust
I am very worried, friends. Worried that the fear of pie crusts may be keeping a great many of you from making your own pies at home. Is this true? Does this sound like you? Do debates over butter vs. lard or tender vs. flaky make you want to run and hide? Well, take a deep breath and grab your notebook today were going to go over how to make a pie from start to finish, one step at a time.
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How To Roll And Transfer Pie Dough:
Dust work surface with flour and roll a single crust into a 12 circle. Wrap your pie dough around your rolling pin. If it sticks to the work surface use a food scraper or spatula to loosen it as you go.
Carefully transfer crust to 9 pie dish and unroll it into the pan. Gently press dough down to line the pie dish. Tuck excess dough underneath itself to make a thick double layered edge .
What Youll Need To Make Pie Crust
Some pie crust recipes call for all butter some call for all shortening, lard or oil and some call for a combination of fats. I like to use a blend of butter and shortening. The butter lends delicious flavor and flakiness, while the shortening makes the dough easy to work with and also helps it hold its shape. Its important that the butter and shortening are both very cold.
As for the dry ingredients, in addition to all-purpose flour and salt, I like to add a bit of baking powder to my homemade pie crust. It helps the crust expand into the pan, rather than shrink and slip down the sides as it bakes .
Read Also: Campbells Soup Chicken Pot Pie
*what Can I Use Instead Of Pie Weights
When you pre-bake an empty crust a.k.a. blind-bake, the dough tends to puff up and rise. Using pie weights solves this problem. Here are some alternative to store-bought pie weights.
- Dry Raw Beans beans should not be used for cooking following a blind bake but can be re-used to blind bake pie crust.
- Dry Raw Rice If using rice, it becomes toasted and can be used for cooking in pilaf recipes after it is use to prebake a pie crust
How To Make The Peach Pie Filling:
1. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl: 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and 1/8 tsp salt.
2. Blanch peaches by putting them in boiling hot water for 1 min. this will make removing the skins way easier. Pit peaches and slice into 1/4 thick slices.
3. Transfer peaches to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 1/2 tsp vanilla and gently stir.
4. Sprinkle with the dry ingredients and gently stir to combine. Now start working on the lattice topping. . It turns out so beautiful and impressive. You can also make a regular topping and cut slits in the top for the steam to escape.
Once the top is on, trim off any excess dough, leaving a small amount hanging over the edge, then crimp the edges all around with your fingers.
5. In a small ramekin, use a fork to beat together the egg and 1 Tbsp water to make your egg wash. Brush the top of your pie generously with egg wash.
6. Place pie on the center rack and bake at 425 F for 20 minutes then place cookie sheet lined with foil under the pie to catch an drips and reduce oven to 375F and bake an additional 30-40 min or until your filling is bubbling. Loosely Cover the pie with foil if it is starting to brown too quickly.
Heres the tough part: let the pie cool down ideally at least 2 hours so the filling thickens. If you cut it early, the pie will be too juicy and will fall apart on your plate if eaten right away. It will still taste amazing, but it firms up as it stands.
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Tools Needed To Make Pie Crust
- Pastry blender: This is used to cut the butter into the flour. I favor the ones like this with a rubber handle. Or you can use the food processor option and you dont need a pastry blender.
- Kitchen scale: I recommend a kitchen scale for the most accurate results, though measuring cups will work just be sure to measure as noted .
- Mixing bowl: It doesnt need to be anything fancy just something large enough to hold the volume of ingredients with extra space for mixing. Something like these.
- Rolling pin:This type here works great.
- Pie dish: I recommend a glass or metal pie dish. I use this standard size and this deeper dish. Ceramic pie dishes conduct heat slowly and dont brown or cook as evenly.
- Pie weights: You can use the real deal pie weights or just use dry beans or even sugar. I usually just go with dry beans.
Classic Single Pie Crust
We figure we can’t repeat too often our formula for the flakiest, most tender pie crust so here it is. The following formula is perfect for a single-crust, 8″ to 10″ pie.
- 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or 1 1/2 cups Pastry Flour Blend
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
- 3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
Add the shortening, working it in until the mixture is evenly crumbly.
Add the butter to the flour mixture, and work it in roughly with your fingers, a pastry cutter, or a mixer. Don’t be too thorough the mixture should be very uneven, with big chunks of butter in among the smaller ones.
Add 2 tablespoons of water, and toss to combine.
Take it a step further
Toss with enough additional water to make a chunky mixture. It should barely hold together when you squeeze a handful, though the remainder may look quite dry.
Shape the dough into a disk about 1″ thick, and refrigerate it for 30 minutes or longer this resting period allows the flour to absorb the water, making the dough easier to roll out. If you decide to let the dough chill longer than 30 minutes allow it rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before rolling, to allow the butter to soften up a bit.
When you’re “ready to roll,” remove the dough from the fridge. Roll the dough to the size needed . Place it in a pie pan, and refrigerate it while you prepare your filling.
Read Also: Campbells Soup Chicken Pot Pies
Should I Prebake The Pie Crust
The answer depends on what kind of pie youre making! My rule of thumb is this:
If your pie filling is not cooked, dont prebake the crust. Just fill it and bake the entire pie according to the recipe.
If your pie filling doesnt need much cooking time, then you should prebake the crust. In that case, bake the pie crust for 10 minutes at 450°F, fill it, and continue with baking according to the recipe.
Basically, if your pie isnt going to be in the oven long, youll need to bake the crust first so it is fully cooked. But if your pie recipe calls for a longer baking time, dont bother with prebaking! Prebaking also creates a crisper crust surface, which helps keep custard-type fillings from soaking into the crust.
How To Make The Perfect Flaky Pie Crust
This 20-minute recipe totally beats the store-bought stuff.
Puréed pumpkin and other seasonal fruits are prime for pie making, but everyone knows who the real star of the show is: the crust. Whether you’re a pro pie baker or just starting out, here are the best tips for perfecting that pastry.
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